Everything tastes better with bacon, but I hate paying for meat, at least in the traditional sense. This odd dynamic made me a perfect candidate for hog hunting, and my passion for chasing swine has played a front-and-center role in my hunting life now for roughly 20 years, first with lever- and bolt-action rifles, then for over a decade with a bow in hand, and for the past five years, with AR-platform rifles topped with thermal and night vision optics.
Employing the latter, I have taken countless crop thieves from scores of fields and have utilized a variety of calibers from both AR-15 and AR-10/LR-308 systems. Through it all, I have formed fairly strong opinions about what works, what I like… and what I dream about. Lucky for you (and me) I finally had the opportunity to build my ultimate pig rig, and here is how it went down.
Like bacon, F-1 Firearms is an unapologetically American treasure. Hailing from Spring, Texas, just north of Houston, F-1 Firearms is busy manufacturing some of the most stunning, most aggressively designed AR systems in the nation. Their chassis are unmistakable and respected for quality workmanship, reliable performance, and insanely cool finishes. As such, choosing an F-1 Firearms BDRx AR-15 receiver set and handguard, often referred to as a builders set or chassis, finished in their satin Titanium Shadow Camo pattern, was an easy choice. F-1 also included their ultra-comfortable, paracord-wrapped, billet GRP-ST2 grip.
For precision accuracy and bacon-making ballistic capability, I chose a new cartridge, Hornady’s 6mm ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) in 103-grain Precision ELD-X, and an 18-inch BSF barrel—a lightweight, match-grade, carbon-fiber jacketed barrel with 1:7.5 twist capable of sub ¼-MOA accuracy with looks as aggressive and beautiful as the chassis it now sits in.
At the back of the rifle, completing the system’s foundation, I chose Magpul’s flagship UBR Gen2 Collapsible Stock. The UBR Gen2 Stock is designed for larger calibers and features eight length-of-pull positions, as well as a rubber, anti-slip buttpad, multiple sling attachments points (including QD), and a storage compartment.
The Gut Pile
While the ultimate pig rig requires great bones, the trigger is also a critical component for safer multi-shot hunting action and enhanced overall accuracy. My choice for this project was Rise Armament’s drop-in RA-535 Advanced Performance trigger. The trigger includes anti-rotation pins and boasts short travel, a ridiculously crisp break at 3.5 pounds, and fast reset—in a word, dreamy.
For small lower receiver parts, I sourced from Sons of Liberty Gun Works’ Blaster Guts Kit although for primary controls, i.e., the ambidextrous selector switch, takedown pins, magazine release, and bolt-catch system, I stuck with F-1 Firearms—obviously, considering the chassis, their billet aluminum, black-anodized controls were a great fit.
Wrapping up the lower, with consideration for recoil impulse and reliable cycling, I selected a JP Enterprises Silent Capture H2 Spring Buffering System. Any time I feel cycling can get tricky (larger bores, low mass bolt carriers, shooting suppressed, etc.), I have learned through trial and error that this particular buffering system can save you hours of frustrating cycling/gas-tuning time.
Up top, I chose to use a precision-machined ambidextrous Phoenix Weaponry (PW) charging handle. PW’s rocket-sciency engineer, master machinist and owner, Aaron Cayce, has machined parts floating through deep space, sitting above on the International Space Station, crawling along inside the Mars Rover, and deep inside medical patients… but his passion is building out-of-this-world rifles and pew-pew parts—he even machines his own gas rings. Considering his perfectionist machining reputation, I definitely wanted some over-the-top PW parts on the build. Along with the charging handle, I chose PW’s adjustable gas block and rifle-length gas tube.
Hunting high and low for one of my favorite low-mass bolt carrier groups paid off when I found it at one of my favorite online AR parts superstores, Brownells. The BCG? JP Enterprises’ enhanced LMOS model (low mass operating system) with QPQ coating. Worth mentioning, JP’s LMOS BCG weighs in at just 8.8 oz.
Finally, for the sake of courtesy to fellow shooters and hunters, enhanced hearing protection for myself and more follow up shots on confused feral hogs caught in the chaos, I added a Dead Air Silencers Keymount Brake, followed by a Dead Air Sandman-S suppressor. The suppressor reduces noise significantly for comfortable shooting while also allowing me to hear commands from the guide or team leader, and often times, increases confusion for feral hogs, resulting in more shot opportunities.
With my ultimate pig rig project complete, the only tests left were accuracy and performance. For initial shooting, I employed a Sightmark Pinnacle 5-30×50 first-focal-plane riflescope, an Accu-Tac PC-4 Bipod with sled feet, and a squeeze bag. Initial grouping was accomplished at 100 yards, using Hornady Precision Hunter 103-grain ELD-X ammunition. During sight-in, I tuned the gas system. With the Dead Air Sandman S suppressor mounted and after minor gas tuning, the bolt locked back reliably on empty magazines, cases ejected at 3 o’clock, and I experienced ZERO misfeeds. In the words of my grandfather, she runs like a Swiss clock.
For my fellow ballistic nerds, the LabRadar chronograph reported an average muzzle velocity of 2,706 fps, an extreme spread of 23 and standard deviation of 8.8. Hornady’s consistency has been pretty impressive across ELD-M and ELD-X ammo. To round out my first shooting experience, I managed a 6-shot group measuring just .396 MOA at 100 yards with nothing than the PC-4 bipod and a squeeze bag.
Soon after, I replaced the Pinnacle with a Pulsar Trail 2 LRF XP50 thermal riflescope in preparation for an evening hog hunt. Again, I sighted in at 100 yards but this time with a handwarmer type pad on cardboard. I use warm heat signatures in cooler temperatures and cool heat signatures—ice cubes are great—in warmer temperatures. With ballistic data gathered, I focused on sight-in and impressed myself with a .519-MOA 3-shot group.
Even better, ballistic accuracy and performance continued in the crop fields. While my bacon-making night was a tad slow, I managed to reduce the crop thief population by five. Each pig required just a single shot. This being my third hog hunt with Hornady’s 6mm ARC ammunition, I am excited to see it, again, perform beyond my expectations. It definitely earns a spot on my short-list of AR-15 platform favorites.
Ultimate Gun Build Cost & Contacts
|Chassis with Shadow Camo Finish:||$1445|
|BSF 18-in. Barrel:|
|Magpul UBR Gen 2 Stock:|
|JP Silent Capture H2 Buffer System:||$188.95|
|LMOS QPQ Bolt Carrier Group:|
|Rise Armament RA-535 trigger:|
|Phoenix Weaponry Charging Handle:||$154.99|
|Adjustable Gas Block and RL Tube:|
|Sons of Liberty Gun Works Blaster Guts:|
|Dead Air Silencers Sandman-S with Keymount Brake:|
|Accu-Tac PC-4 Bipod with Sled Feet:|
|Hornady Precision Hunter ELD-X 6mm ARC 103gr/box:||$36.99|
|Pulsar Trail LRF XP50 Thermal Riflescope:|
|TOTAL AS PICTURED:||$11,561.32|
*Hornady 6mm ARC 103gr Precision Hunter ELDX: $36.99 per box